La Paz in 24 hours

At an altitude of around 3650m above sea level, La Paz is one of Bolivia’s most populous cities that is home of the central government. Is a city that seems to move quickly with people living their own fast paced lives, vendors crowding the thin streets and car and buses stuck in a never ending traffic. Yet, the location of this city surrounded by the altiplano, its people and buildings makes it a unique and incredible place from a touristic perspective.

La Paz 7
Plaza San Francisco

After a 4-hour bus ride (including a 20-minute ferry ride) from Copacabana to La Paz, we arrived in the main terminal of the city. We grabbed a taxi and made it to our hostel late at night. Based on our good Cusco hostel experience, we decided to stay at Wild Rover La Paz. A twin room with a bunk bed started at 198 bolivianos or around 29 USD. The hostel is located close to some of top tourist attractions in La Paz.

We decided to start the next day with “Mi Teleferico”, an aerial cable car that can take you all the way up from La Paz to El Alto. There are 3 lines, Red, Yellow and Green. The yellow line was our choice and once you are at the top, you’ll see some of the most incredible views of the city.

La Paz 2
View of La Paz from “Mi Teleferico”

Our next stop was at the crowded Plaza San Francisco. There are walking tours that leave from here every hour for only 20 bolivianos per person.

The walk started at the Witches Market, a place like I’ve never seen before. It’s a market around different streets where you can find traditional crafts, souvenirs, medical plants, ingredients and dried llama fetuses that are used for rituals. I must say that it was a bit shocking and disturbing to see the dried llama fetuses yet it’s a normal tradition for locals to perform rituals where they bury the llamas for good luck under new homes or business to the goddess Pachamama or “Mother Earth”.

La Paz 5
dried llama fetuses


La Paz 3
Street art around the Witches Market

The next stop was at Plaza Murillo. As we were approaching the plaza, we saw many police personnel with riot gears and barricades surrounding the plaza. Our group was able to get in because we were tourists. The protest was from disabled people demanding a monthly subsidy of 500 bolivianos from the government.

Arguably Bolivia’s most important plaza, its surrounded by the presidential palace “Palacio Quemado”, the Cathedral of La Paz and the national congress.

La Paz 1
Palacio Quemado

San Pedro prison was the next stop of the tour. A prison like no other, it’s known for having a society within the walls, where inmates can live with their families while they do their sentences. Although we did not go inside for obvious reasons, the prison is also known for having “wealthier” and “poorer” areas within the prison.

The final stop was at Apolinar Jaen street. The most beautiful street that we saw in La Paz, is narrow yet rich in colors and surrounded by shops and restaurants.

La Paz 6
Apolinar Jaen street

Although we did not have time to cover other important places like “Death Row” or the Moon Valley, we were able to have a good grasp of this unique city in 1 day.

Next Stop: Sucre.

Isla del Sol and Copacabana

As our Peru adventure in Cusco and Machu Picchu took an end, a new one started in Bolivia.

The bus ride from Cusco to Copacabana is around 8 hours with 1 hour and a half lay off in Puno. You have the option to see Lake Titicaca both from Puno (Peru) as well as Copacabana (Bolivia) but we chose the latter based on friend’s recommendations.

Many countries don’t require a tourist visa for Bolivia but depending on your nationality, a visa on arrival might be applicable. After crossing the border to Bolivia and going through immigration for about 40 minutes, we finally made it to Copacabana!

isla del sol 1

Our first stop was at Manchester United café, located in front of Lake Titicaca and the docks. I highly recommended the traditional Trucha (a la diabla). After lunch, we walked around town and the central market and bought bus tickets to La Paz for the next day in a travel agency (there are many around the shops and restaurants) for 25 bolivianos each or about 3.60 USD.

We were told by the travel agency not to pay for boat transportation in advance so we walked around the dock and received different prices for one way tickets to Isla del Sol north (400 bolivianos at one point! This is obviously way overpriced). We ended up paying 40 bolivianos each (6 USD), a very reasonable amount. The point is to ask around to find the best available prices, don’t just buy it from the first person that offers you a boat ride!

Isla del Sol has a south side and north side and we decided to stay in the north side. The boat ride to Isla del Sol north was about 2 hours and during the ride, you can see the beautiful Andes on the background. We finally arrived to the island late in the afternoon during the sunset.

isla del sol 2
Isla del Sol north with the Andes in the background

Isla del Sol north is a relatively small in terms of infrastructure and population, with just a couple of hostels and restaurants. We saw some people that would camp by the shore with their own tents, so that’s another option that you have. We decided to settle with Hostal Cultural. A clean room with a private restroom and 2 beds started at 40 bolivianos or about 6 USD per person.

The next morning and after a quick breakfast, our 4 hour walk from the very north of the island to south was about to begin. The boat from the south side was leaving to Copacabana at 3:30pm so we started the walk the earliest possible.

isla del sol 17

As you walk up the hill, some of the most amazing views are there for you to contemplate throughout the trail.

isla del sol 12

Once you make it to the very end of the north side, you’ll stumble upon some ruins that worth checking out for a bit. Throughout the trail, you’ll be charged with fees when going to the ruins and crossing from the north to the south side. So it’s a good idea to carry some bolivianos with you.

isla del sol 10
North side ruins

After walking for a little over an hour through the trail, you’ll start seeing changes in vegetation that provide a perfect contrast of the lake and the island.

isla del sol 18

The walk is long depending on your pace but I would say that the average time is about 3 hours and a half. It took Jose and I about 4 hours because we were carrying all of our backpacks (you can leave your luggage in a storage room in Copacabana, some hotels provide this service). Make sure to carry sunblock, plenty of water, a hat and comfortable clothes.

As we finally arrived in the south side, we felt relieved, yet we knew that the long and tiring walk has been worth it.

isla del sol 9
Isla del Sol south

When we took the boat back to Copacabana at 3:30pm, our bus was scheduled to depart at 6:00pm to La Paz, our next destination.

Contemplating Lake Titicaca from Isla del Sol is a truly beautiful experience that I hope to repeat it one day.

Next Stop: La Paz.




Machu Picchu in 1 day

As one of the new seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu is one of Latin America’s top touristic destinations. The ruins that are more than 500 years of age, represent a monumental architectural and engineering design of the Incas. The city served for religious, agricultural and ceremonial centre to name a few, and was built in an isolated mountain ridge where the Spanish conquistadors never found it.

There are a few ways to get to Machu Picchu and most travel agencies will provide all options. If you are not limited with time, the famous Inca Trail (4-day trek) could be your best bet. Jose and I did the 1-day tour with Inka Travel agency for 200 USD. The tour included; bus transportation, train tickets and entrance to Machu Picchu with a 2 hour guided tour.

The day started around 4:45 am when a bus came to pick us up from our hostel. Then, there was a 2-hour bus ride to Ollantaytambo station. For train schedules or if you decide to go on your own, you can find info in Peru Rail.

machu picchu 1
Train to Machu Picchu

The train ride to Aguas Calientes is about 1 hour and a half. Is a nice train ride where we looked at beautiful mountains in the surrounding areas and ate some snacks (included with the ticket purchase).

Machupicchu Pueblo or Aguas Calientes is the last stop before reaching Machu Picchu. There area plenty of restaurants, shops and hotels in Aguas Calientes. After arriving here, we took a bus uphill for about 40 minutes where we finally reached the ruins. Our tickets were included in our tour package and at the entrance, you can get a stamp of Machu Picchu on your passport!

Machu Picchu 2
Beginning of Machu Picchu

Our tour guide gave us an introduction of Machu Picchu, how the city is believed to have a population of less than 1000 people as well as the history behind the Yale professor who showed Machu Picchu to the world. Jose and I decided to split up and we did a 40-minute walk to Puerta del Sol (is a trek that was part of the Inca Trail). Once you get to the top, you’ll see a view of Machu Picchu that is worth contemplating for a while.

machu picchu 5
View from Puerta del Sol

Before walking around inside the ruins, we took a moment to take some classic photos of the majestic Machu Picchu!

machu picchu 11

In the afternoon, we were able to join a guided tour in English. The tour guide walked us around the homes of the ruling elite, the giant walls as well as terraces that served for agriculture and their water distribution system.

machu picchu 7

machu picchu 10

If you have the time, you also can climb Huayna Picchu, the mountain that rises over Machu Picchu. You’ll need to book tickets in advance. For us, 5 hours was enough to cover many important places of the site.

That’s it for Machu Picchu amigos! It’s a truly magical place that’s definitely a must when visiting South America!

Next stop: Copacabana and Isla del Sol.